In my other life I’m a laggard

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but popeye.jpegwhen I leave the office, I’m a 53-year-old laggard. A throwback to another time. There’s really nothing I can do about it. I am what I am, as Popeye would say — a little slow and a lot deliberate.

According to Everett Rogers, my laggard group makes up 16% of the population. We’re the last folks to adopt products and innovations. “Innovators,” just 3% of the populace, are on the front end of the “adoption curve.” But most of you are somewhere in the middle.

Many laggards are slow on the uptake because they aren’t paying attention — or they don’t care about cutting-edge technology. That isn’t me. I’m just cautious. I want to be SURE an innovation will really enhance my life — not complicate it — before I plunk down a pile of cash to own it. Believe me, I love new toys. Just ask my wife.

Funny thing is, at the office I’m a different character. I bought my first PC in 1985, well ahead of my friends and most of mxt.jpgy professional colleagues. But I needed it for my business, so it really wasn’t an option. Laggard or not, I plunked down $3,500 for an IBM-XT (precursor to the lightning-fast “286” processor). I’m also among the first on our faculty to actually “do” blogging on a regular basis (though I don’t really like the “tech” side of it). And I have no phobia about learning new software, with the possible exception of InDesign, but that’s another story.

So you see, if I “need” technology to survive, I’m there. Otherwise I sit back and watch others plunge in, letting the innovators and early adopters work out the bugs and make the mistakes.

At home, I remain a borderline Luddite.

I bought my first CD player in 1994 (a 5-disc changer that still works), but that came a decade after CD music was mainstream. I waited a good 15 years to jump in on the cell phone thing, but I still don’t need one. It’s funny, because I was on the PR team that launched cellular technology in Upstate New York back in 1984.

Think of me as a dedicated observer, watching carefully what others do with innovations. Maybe that’s the educator in me. Or maybe, as the Jeff Goldblum character in The Big Chill said, that’s just another “juicy rataionalization” to help me get through the day. See, I’m even two decades behind in my contemporary references.

I can’t explain this worklife-homelife dichotomy. If an innovation intersects with the practice of public relations or my professional world, I’ll embrace it. And there’s a good chance my students will hear it from me first. Ditto for online culture. I follow it far more closely than my students. Last week I polled a group of 12 Kent Staters and only one had even heard of “Lonely Girl“; only two had visited YouTube. Half of them had read this blog, but they’re just sucking up for grades!

Blogging has helped alter my worldview a lot. So much so that I’m considering a move into the “late majority” group on the adoption curve. But before I make such a radical move, I think I’ll watch that group for a while. They may be a little too fast for me.

4 Responses to In my other life I’m a laggard

  1. Andy Curran says:

    See? Somebody reads this who isn’t sucking up for a grade! I just want venison!

    I was perusing blogger.com because my Survey of Modern Media class is discussing blogs on Thursday. They run a scroll of recently updated blogs. Highly coincidental, but this was scrolling on the banner when I clicked the home page:

    http://kentstategeology.blogspot.com/

    It looks like it’s a blog written by a KSU geology alum.

    Not to be picky, but on the Popeye quote, check out this link:

    http://www.math.pitt.edu/~bard/bardware/popeye/faq.html

    The question of the day: Who has less of a life?

    a. You, because you spend time writing these blogs.

    b. Me, because I reply to them.

    c. My wife’s snake.

  2. Kait says:

    I’ve found myself in a position in which I must force myself into the 3% … like it or not! 2 things:

    First, this article (pardon the long address, I couldn’t link it) from Business Weekly regarding video on the Internet…

    http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/oct2006/tc20061002_663643.htm?campaign_id=rss_tech

    and secondly, my company’s blog…

    http://newimagemedia.typepad.com

    You must have inspired us to embrace cutting-edge technology to some degree…I’m making my career out of it!

  3. The whole question of early adoption is a good one to consider, because the MSM will make quite a lot of things like YouTube, MySpace, etc., and meanwhile, here in the real world, most people pay them no mind at all. Like you, Bill, I had an XT (but a clone that cost less than your three and a half large), but got on the cell bandwagon pretty quick — I think it was 1990… We ran a poll on our intranet home page recently — 70 percent of respondants had never visited social media sites…

  4. Brian Wooley says:

    Seems like blogging is a good fit for you. So far, I like what I’ve seen here–it’s a nice mix of, as you put it, the “worklife-homelife dichotomy.” The best kind of blog combines useful, timely information with the informal and personal details that make it something more than just another news outlet, and you seem to have hit the bullseye in that regard.

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